You don’t have to have been reading here long to know that me and festive cheer are like bread and butter. Salt and pepper. Lime and gin. We go together. We can’t be separated, ever. My heart rate actually spikes when I see easter baskets lined up on grocery shelves; I get waves of euphoria spotting tubs of carving pumpkins in Woolies. Last year, the ladies at Lincraft had to kindly ask me to move away from their Christmas aisles because – and I quote – “We’re still setting up ma’am.”
What can I say? I thought it was just the Claus gene I had, but it turns out I have the complete Hallmark DNA set. Here in Brisbane, we don’t have natural, seasonal cues that festive months are coming like falling maple leaves and bright orange pumpkin patches and waking up to snow-covered windows while Christmas carols play. We are void of most temperature changes that exist in the natural world and Australia is generally SO BEHIND with its festive cheer that it makes me so upset if I think about it too much.
So here, we work with what we’ve got. And folks, what we’ve got is the top floor of Myer. The just-before-checkout section of Ikea. Aisle 10 of Woolies. Here, we like to take our holiday cues from commercial institutions like Target and David Jones and the front sections of Bargain House. I sniff out those aisles on the cusp of a Hallmark holiday like I’m hunting down a tiger – like I’m picking up the first tinge of a cold front, the first flicker of a turned, golden leaf – so that when I see that first glimpse of artificial, plastic pine, poking out from a shelf, I can officially declare: CHRISTMAS HAS ARRIVED.
Halloween, praise God, is actually very strongly celebrated in my neighbourhood. Trick-or-treaters fill every nook and cranny that cars can barely pass; homes are covered in cobwebs, graveyards out front, jack o’ lanterns flickering. My Hallmark Heart just geeks out over it, and it’s an excitement my children harbour just as much. Ella started counting down the days until Halloween about two weeks ago, and when she wakes up each morning, the first thing she says is how many days there is to go. This, of course, makes me hysterical – that her love of celebration and tradition fuels her as much as it does. Besides, it’s very educational – the practice of counting backwards. I remind my husband of this when he lets out his repetitive festive groans we have all come to ignore. There is no room in this household for that kind of negativity.
We are gearing up and ready for trick-or-treating tonight, cobwebs draped over doorways, ghosts erected in our front yard, twinkle lights glowing, dry ice in eskies ready to bubble away. But for now, little snippets of October and how we like to ring in Halloween, Hallmark DNA and all.
All the pumpkins.
I see them in the Woolies tubs and I get hysterical.
Front door wreaths.
Because there should be a front door wreath for every Hallmark holiday.
Our theme this year was purely guided by our Batman-obsessed little boy. Billy got a Batman showbag at the Ekka this year and he has lived in the costume since. I didn’t wash it for 3 weeks once because he couldn’t bear to be without it.
I asked my friend to come and take some photos of us dressed up together because I knew it would never happen trick-or-treating night. This is the best family pic we got.
Joel groaned the whole time, Georgie was equally unimpressed and Billy lost most of his costume 15 minutes before our friend came over which is really just so ironic because we’re only dressed as superheroes because of him.
We work with what we’ve got.
Baby’s first Halloween!
(The chubb, the CHUBB!) (I CANNOT COPE.)
(Except we only get through about 10 minutes before the kids scream, “I’m scared!” and we switch over to Doc McStuffins, the safe choice.)
And our little pumpkin-carving tradition with friends every year.
And a quote I read in another blog I follow, from a woman who shares the same Hallmark bloodline as me:
“Gratitude is often thought of as an intellectual concept, when really Gratitude is a small seed planted in the heart that is nurtured and nourished through acknowledging all the good that surrounds us. Good that can be discovered through the reassuring comfort of family customs, rituals, and traditions and restoring a sense of rhythm in our daily round and through the changing seasons.” Sara ban Breathnach